A new initiative to raise awareness around temperature and humidity of New Zealand homes has been welcomed by Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, as a way of encouraging interest in how home environments can affect respiratory health.

Mr Humfreez is a cute, woolly, model sheep with horns which unfurl with humidity, and a nose that turns blue as temperature drops. Mr Humfreez recently made his debut at Stonefields School, Auckland, as part of a new education initiative. The vision is for the little sheep to become part of a healthy homes curriculum module that can be rolled out in classrooms nationwide.

Head of Education and Research at the Foundation, Teresa Demitriou, says that this kind of innovation is exactly what’s needed to get young people understanding how their environment can affect their health.

"It really is a fantastic idea", says Teresa. "One in six New Zealanders live with a respiratory condition, and one in seven children have asthma, but it can be difficult to help people understand the link between their environment and how they’re feeling. Mr Humfreez brings that link into the home, and makes it not just easy to understand, but adorable.

"People really aren’t all that interested in looking at thermometers or hygrometers, but Mr Humfreez takes that functionality and makes it easy and fun. We think this could change how New Zealand looks at home environments; even I want one!"

The pilot programme is being led by Dale Bailey, a former Director of Collections Research and Learning at Te Papa. Dale is passionate about the initiative, and has been blown away by the reception Mr Humfreez has experienced.

"The technology behind Mr Humfreez is incredible," says Dale. "His nose is painted with thermochromic ink, and turns blue when the temperature drops below 18C. His wooden horns are naturally hygroscopic, meaning they gain and lose water to balance out with their environment, and fully uncurl when the relative humidity level exceeds 65%."

"We knew that Mr Humfreez would be liked, but we’re surprised by how much he is loved. The public have really responded to this little sheep and his mission to help Kiwis think more about how climate impacts our homes."

Backed by the New Zealand Green Building Council, Mr Humfreez is part of ANZ’s Healthy Homes initiative and, if the initial trial is well received, ANZ will seek to produce more Mr Humfreez next winter.

If you want to get your own Mr Humfreez, ANZ are giving 100 away; go to ANZ Healthy Homes online and register before 7th October to go in to win one of the first Mr Humfreez.